Ford Fiesta Active review
Ford Fiesta Active: like a Ford Fiesta but with increased ride height to help traverse more difficult roads
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Ford Fiesta Active X 1.0T EcoBoost (125PS)

  • P11D Value: £21,045
  • BIK Band 2018/19: 23%
  • 5-door, 5-seater hatchback
  • 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol/6 speed manual
  • 125ps/170Nm,
  • Economy/CO2: 56.5pg/114g/km
  • Performance: 10.4secs/119mph

What is it?

NEW car buyers seemingly can’t get enough of high-riding SUVs, crossovers and 4x4s. So here is a new offering from Ford – the Fiesta Active.

Very much in the soft-roader, crossover niche of the burgeoning utility market, the Active is a Fiesta with a raised ride-height, 2WD-only transmission and styling upgrades that include a new grille design and body cladding to add a little extra toughness to the friendly Fiesta bodyshape.

There are six engines in the range – four petrols and two diesels – and three trim levels spanning prices from £17,795 to £22,085.

Compared to a Fiesta hatchback, an Active carries an £1100 premium across the range.

The engine range starts with an 85ps 1.0 EcoBoost and rises through 100ps and 125ps versions to the most powerful 140ps version. Diesels are both 1.5 TDCi offering either 85ps or 120ps. A single automatic model is in the range, mated to the 100ps EcoBoost.

Why would you want to drive a Fiesta Active?

  • Compared to the Fiesta hatch, Britain’s perennial best-seller, the Active version adds a little more practicality and visual toughness. The ride height is jacked-up 18mm — which doesn’t sound much — but is sufficient to cut the odds of scraping the undercarriage in a roughly-surfaced car park. There’s also a cockpit-mounted switch that tailors the traction and stability controls with a ‘slippery’ mode for use in snow or ice.
  • One benefit of the higher ride-height is longer suspension travel that endows the Active’s suspension with better bump absorption. Again 18mm doesn’t sound much, but Ford’s chassis engineers have worked their usual magic and designed a very supple riding suspension. In the urban jungle, this brings the significant advantage of smoother progress over speed bumps, a useful benefit.
  • Given the interest many fleet drivers have in switching away from diesel to petrol company cars, the Fiesta Active offers a wide choice of 1.0 EcoBoost petrols.
  • The good news also is, at least according to Ford’s figures, that there might be a slight tax advantage for choosing a petrol over diesel.
  • Of course it depends on how each Fiesta Active is specced to affect the P11D value, but Ford says a top-level trim Active X 125PS Ecoboost will cost a fleet driver £79/mth at 20% BIK or £158/mth at 40%. In comparison a 120ps TDCi will cost £98/mth or £196/mth.
  • Of course Ford’s USP ever-since the Mondeo and Focus shook-up their markets in the 1990s, is dynamic driving behaviour. And the Fiesta Active is no exception, being based on the brilliant Fiesta hatch with its responsive steering and fine balance between ride and handling. To balance out the slightly higher ride height, Ford has widened the tracks by 10mm, revised the geometry and electric power steering and added a new hydraulic rebound stopper to improve ride quality over rough ground. The benefit can be felt on a country road, where the Active can be hustled along, soaking up the bumps and ruts, especially with the three-cylinder 125ps EcoBoost thrumming along with a wave of very usable torque, bringing a smile to the driver’s face.
  • The Active is also refined when cruising and the EcoBoost petrols deliver their power in a smooth flow, yet are happy to rev when needed. The heartland of the Fiesta range is the 100PS EcoBoost, which we tested with the automatic gearbox. The two are well-matched and changes are smooth and reasonably crisp. No doubt the auto blunts outright acceleration — and adds 25g/km to the CO2 rating — but the convenience of self-shifting in today’s traffic clogged conditions shouldn’t be underestimated.
Ford Fiesta Active review front three quarters action
The Ford Fiesta Active might sit higher but there’s better absorption of bumps and improved ride quality

What might put you off a Fiesta Active?

  • There is a slight compromise in driving balance compared to the Fiesta hatchback. The higher ride height equals a little more body roll, while the steering isn’t quite so incisive on turn-in as the hatch, but for a soft-roader, the Fiesta Active is a really good drive. However, a driver looking for an extra edge in supermini handling is better advised to stick with the hatchback.
  • No off road ability. Ford pointedly told us the Active is “not designed to go off-road”. By that it means fording streams, climbing mountains and taking on deep ruts. NOT to be found on the spec sheet are 4WD, a reinforced body shell, low ratio gears or underbody protection. At heart the Active is a Fiesta hatchback with a little bit more ground clearance, which makes it more practical for dog-walkers, visitors to country parks and owners indulging in mild outdoors activities.
  • Price and styling. The cheapest Fiesta Active is £17k, whereas some rivals like the Citroen C3 Aircross and Kia Soul kick-off around £3k cheaper. And for that, Citroen and Kia offer unique bodystyles with styling that looks like a ‘proper’ off-roader, rather than a hatchback improved with body cladding. Residuals and finance deals may well even out the monthly payments, but for company car drivers the higher P11D will make a difference in BIK.
Ford Fiesta Active interior
Ford Fiesta Active – apart from the gold embellishments, Active delivers standard Fiesta driver cockpit

Verdict on the Ford Fiesta Active

The Fiesta Active will fit the bill for some drivers looking for a selection of the attributes of an SUV, without having to go ‘full off-roader’. The raised ride height and long travel suspension add useful extra ability.

And as the Active inherits the fundamentals of the standard Fiesta’s fine chassis, the extra abilities are delivered with only a slight compromise in road manners. There are benefits in CO2 and fuel economy for business users, too. So we expect the Fiesta Active to find a loyal, if specialist niche.

What else should you know about the new Ford Fiesta Active?

1 Rating the lowest CO2 is the 85ps 1.5 TDCi diesel at 103g/km, which makes it a good all-round bet for business drivers looking for a balance of running cost mpg and benefit in kind taxation, with a BIK of 24%.

The highest is the 100ps EcoBoost automatic at 139g/km, which will penalise company car tax drivers for the added convenience of self-shifting gears. Both the 100ps and 125ps EcoBoost rate identical CO2 of 114g/km, meaning there is little to choose in CO2 between the petrols and the most powerful 120ps TDCi diesel (112g/km).

2 The soft-roader Active joins a Ford range that is increasingly biased towards SUVs. One-in-five Fords now sold in Europe is an SUV and Focus Active hatchback and estate variants are the next arrivals, due in the UK in spring 2019.

3 A cockpit-selectable programme for the traction and stability controls, ‘Slippery mode’, is only available with the six-speed manual transmission. Ford claims the setting reduces wheelspin, especially from a standing start, while cornering on a treacherous road is made safer by automatic interventions to the throttle and brakes.

4 Ford has created three new trim lines for the Active – starting with Active 1, moving through B&O Play, and ending with the range-topping Active X. Active 1 is positioned equivalent to Titanium on the hatchback range and Active X to Vignale.

5 Inspiration for Ford’s Active range came from an unlikely source – Volvo. The Swedish car-maker scored an unexpected hit with the XC40, its high-riding and tough-looking version of the Focus-sized V40 hatch. Despite its humble underpinnings, the XC40 has contributed 30% of European sales of the V40, suggesting to Ford that a solid market exists for hatchbacks with high-riding chassis and tougher styling.

6 The Active won’t be a huge fleet seller for Ford, but it will make a small contribution to the 10% of Fiestas that Ford says are “true fleet sales” – those excluding Motability and Daily Rental.

7 Ford expects the entry-level Active 1 trim to make up about half of all Active sales, with top-spec Active X taking about 30% and mid-spec B&O Play, featuring a 675W amp and 10 speakers including boot-mounted sub-woofer, about 20%.

8 The Active’s 1.5-litre TDCi features a smart alternator that recharges the battery when the car is coasting or braking. By reducing the load on the engine at other times, Ford can improve the Active’s mpg and CO2.

Ford Fiesta Active review rear three quarters driving shot
Company car tax on the Ford Fiesta Active X starts from £79 per month (2018/19 tax year)


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